#Shorts: Illusions

The empty garden was made more beautiful with the presence of his friends. Separation had made them fonder in his eyes, and not that they were here, they couldn’t stop talking. Back and forth; it was like a dance.

A minute later, he was reminded he was alone in the room, hoping for what had already been lost. He stopped staring at the wall and switched on the television.

Continue reading “#Shorts: Illusions”

Advertisements

Not a Lot of Words

CHAOS

“Chaos. When you can’t wake up before 9 but college starts at 7. When you want Coke but get Pepsi. When there’s no Maggi. When you run out of [characters]”

BLISS

“The wife’s skull cracked open. Brains everywhere. He felt bliss.”


Continue reading “Not a Lot of Words”

The Chewing Gum Conundrum

You know how there’s always those things that you can never find even when you look for them all over town, literally? But then those elusive little things end up with you when you least expect it. Take, for example, those chocolates that your aunt brings back with her when she goes abroad, or those bookmarks your dad got when he went for a business trip somewhere. Once you’ve eaten all of the chocolates and bookmarked the shit out of those bookmarks, you want more. So what do you do? You go look for it, in every store you can think of. Even the most fancy ones, but you don’t find it anywhere. Step 2: Throw stuff to express frustration. Step 3: ? Step 4: Rule the world!(?)

You know, back when I was young we used to have these chewing gums with a cartoon character drawn on both sides. One side was red and the other was yellow, and in thick black outline, a cartoon character that suspiciously looked like a cat and dog hybrid, was drawn on both sides. When you opened it, you got a silver paper in which the gum was. It was really big and juicy for my kid-small mouth then. I didn’t learn how to blow bubbles with gum until I was 12 or 13 (shame on me, I know) so I just chewed it for hours until it tasted completely hideous. It was a great pleasure. I saw these chewing gums till maybe 3-4 years back and since then they’ve completely disappeared. No shop keeps them. Blame it on globalisation, all these fancy new chewing gums coming in from fancy countries with their fancy wrappers, displacing really good local goods.

Anybody find those chewing gums, you tell me first. Got it? This is some important shit.

An Eventful Hour on the Bus

I had to wait for about ten minutes before the bus arrived. I was headed to the dentist.

Buses are usually full at that time of the evening. Between my home and my destination, a church was conducting a festival they conduct on a yearly basis for a few days and because of that, traffic was much, much slower than usual. Vehicles moved ahead by a metre or so every ten minutes; that slow.

When my bus arrived, I wasn’t sure there were any seats empty but I had to get in because I was running a little late, and I had to get through so much traffic. Upon climbing in, I realised I was right and there was no place to sit. So I just grabbed one of the handles hanging from the rod attached to the ceiling of the bus, and stood in the aisle, as a few of the other passengers were doing. I assumed I would eventually get a place to sit when passengers disembarked on the next stop, or maybe the one after that.

The traffic near the bus stop wasn’t that bad, but after a kilometre or so, it got worse, and even worse after that. Vehicles were virtually standing still, for as far as the eye could see. In the opposite lane, though, cars were coming towards us at normal speed and traffic was pretty manageable there, even after the arriving lane had been reduced from two parallel lanes to one; the other one being used to divert traffic from our lane and reduce some traffic here. Needless to say, it was working about as well as a band-aid on a fracture.

I just looked around, at the people in and out of the bus. There were a couple of college-going guys quite like myself, sitting in the backseat and talking about some games and apps on the App Store, their compatibility, and their opinions on the same. There was another dude sitting at the front of the bus yelling into his phone, speaking about how he was definitely not going to pay “that asshole” INR 25,000. You know, in India, places are so crowded and people are by default and quite literally, very close, the concept of ‘personal space’ isn’t as elaborate as it may be in other countries, like, say, the US. People don’t mind if there’s other people looking over your shoulder and into your phone screen when you’re texting your girlfriend. Hell, they’ll tell you if they think you should be typing whatever you want to say in a more “conservative” manner. At least its this way in Mumbai, and after that shouty dude finished talking on his phone, a bald guy sitting next to him asked him, “Aaj kal aisa hi sab chalta hai desh me, sab paise ke peeche! (This is exactly what is going on in the world today, everybody is after money!)” The two talked for a good twenty minutes before the bald guy had to get off at his stop. They even exchanged cards before doing so. Friendships on the bus.

The bald dude was the last to disembark at his stop and the bus driver immediately started the bus once he had. There was a lady about twenty metres away, running towards the bus just as he started it. He must have seen the lady, but since she wasn’t at the stop, he didn’t stop for her. Lucky for her, the signal ahead just turned red so she caught up to the bus there and climbed in through the front door, which, mind you, is strictly meant for disembarking and only senior citizens/differently abled people are allowed to embark from there. She looked really tired but angry. As soon as she walked up to the door, the driver told her to, “Please, get in through the back.” She just climbed in to the front instead and started scolding the driver for why he didn’t stop the bus for her when he clearly saw her trying to get to it, back at the bus stop. The driver explained that he won’t stop for every other person on the road, the bus stops only on signals and at bus stops. She then threw the ‘but I’m a woman’ argument at her. At that point her net level of respect in my mind and presumably in that of most of the people in the bus, fell quicker than Kim Kardashian’s reputation. After a while she realised her arguments were losing steam and now that the bus conductor and a couple of passengers had also chimed in with the driver, she acknowledged she was outnumbered and outmatched by sitting down in a huff.

I decided not to plug in my headphones this time, and in retrospect, it was a fruitful decision since I probably wouldn’t have been able to write this post as well if I had.

Vignettes = Tough

What are vignettes? All I knew about them is that they’re those faded black borders that Instagram allows you to apply on your uploads. Well, today’s Writing 101 assignment tells us to write using vignettes, which apparently, are also short episodic scenes that together read as variations of the same theme.

Today’s assignment is tough.

***

I was confused at first. I didn’t know exactly what the assignment was asking me to do. I also didn’t understand the utility of this writing style. Yes, it grants repetition and therefore reinforcement, albeit of a dramatic kind, but I like to rely on subtlety in the kind of fiction that I like to write usually.

You know what? Today’s assignment is tough.

***

I’d never heard of this writing style before, nor do I ever remember reading anything written using this style. Maybe its just one of those things that are very rare. Like reasonably priced fast food these days. Sure, you’ll get fast food for ten rupees but then be prepared that that may or may not include diarrhea. I am NOT a fan of those odds. I am not a fan of this assignment either.

Because today’s assignment is tough.

***

So I recently wrote a preview to the new fiction story I’m working on. Its basically a small excerpt from the beginning of the story. I have promised my readers to publish a full chapter of it soon (I know, ‘soon’ is taking too long but I’m about to explain why, exactly). A funny thing happened the other day. I was talking to a friend and he told me he came up with an idea for a story. He thought it was cliche and really stupid. See, me? I don’t think there’s any stupid story ideas. Only stupid ways to present them. Every idea is a little baby in the beginning, it just lays there if you don’t help it around. You gotta feed it, make it bigger and stronger and then show it off to the world. So I told him to just tell me the idea irrespective of how it sounded. And it turned out to be one of the biggest coincidences I’ve ever been a subject to, in recent times. Turns out, that idea fits right into the story I’m working on. It supplements my story really well, and in fact, adds a great deal to the plot. Its an explosive idea, trust me. That’s why the story is taking a little longer than expected, since I am trying to integrate the two plots, make them cohesive while trying to split it up into chapters. You may have to wait a little longer, but I promise I’ll make it worth your while. So I was working on that story for a little bit today and then I remembered that I haven’t checked today’s Writing 101 assignment so I did.

That’s when I realised that today’s assignment is tough.


Well, that’s the best I could do with the vignettes. What do you think?

The Occupational Hazard

7207013908_32d93d5614_z
Image Courtesy – http://www.flickr.com

Jonathan trundled along, leaning into Steve. He pressed the blood – soaked napkin onto his right hand and held it in a sling made from his left hand.

He could already feel the onset of spasms deep in his belly. His occasional groans would echo in his ears for a while and then fade away into the dense undergrowth. He could still see, that speckled band, hissing. Should he not have been dying, Jonathan knew that that image would haunt him for a long, long time.

A sparrow, chirping its lungs out, flew above them with another in pursuit.

The spasms grew exponentially over the next couple of minutes and gave way to delusions. “Why am I so stupid, Steve? Huh?” he would mumble. He would keep mumbling for several minutes and then stop as suddenly as he had begun.

“Just hang on Johnny. We’re getting there. I just need you to hang in there, okay buddy?” Steve held back a tear.

Steve understood the gravity of the situation. He knew what was going on. He knew what was going on even before it happened.

You know that tingly feeling you have before you do something exciting? That feeling that people call the adrenaline rush? And then when you look back at how awry things went you realise that that feeling was mixed with a tinge of fear, of apprehension. This was the feeling Steve had. This was the feeling he dreaded. This was the feeling we all shrink from.

He saw the mornings events replay in his mind.

Continue reading “The Occupational Hazard”